Firefighters lead a rather risky life. And if you thought that it’s just about the dangerous flames that they extinguish, causing them burns and bruises, you need to know more.
Even though they use protective gear and fire extinguishing foam AFFF, sadly, that’s what affects their lives. Both the gear and the AFFF have toxic chemicals that cause life-threatening diseases, including various types of cancer, like leukemia and other debilitating ailments.
Known to be the 10th most prevalent cancer occurring in the United States, leukemia is known to affect more than 186,000 people annually. One of the common factors that causes this fatal disease is toxic exposure. It includes getting exposed to dangerous PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances), present in AFFF.
PFAS can be defined as a cluster of chemicals often known as forever chemicals that, instead of getting broken down and moving out from the human body and environment, stay for several years. As a result, PFAS accumulates in the internal organs and bloodstream, which results in leukemia and other ailments.
Typically, civil and military firefighters have been exposed to this toxic foam for many years and have suffered. In this article, we will discuss the link between AFFF and leukemia, how it affects the human body, its symptoms, and how victims can seek legal assistance to get compensated for the damages they have endured.
Understanding Leukemia and Its Link with PFAS
To define it in simple terms, leukemia is called the cancer of white blood cells. It starts to occur the moment the DNA of one cell in the bone marrow mutates and isn’t able to develop and function as it should. Leukemia cells typically function similarly to abnormal white blood cells. The treatment for this disease depends on your age, your complete health, and whether the cancer has spread to other tissues or organs.
In terms of AFFF exposure, this disease has a five-year latency. It adversely affects the body tissue involved in blood production, like the bone marrow and the thymus gland, spleen, and lymphatic system. Even though its causes are still unknown, the medical community suspects it to have a genetic predisposition that gets triggered by a wide range of environmental factors.
Firefighters have increased levels of PFAS in their bloodstream, which might signal the onset of any dangerous disease. Hence, it is necessary for firefighters or any other military personnel who have been exposed to AFFF for a prolonged time and have been facing physical discomfort to get a full blood test done to decipher whether they have developed leukemia.
Side-Effects of Leukemia on the Human Body
Possessing too few or excess leukemia cells in one’s body is considered harmful. These cells don’t serve any definite purpose in keeping the human body healthy. The normal blood cells come with minimal space and assistance to multiply and mature within the bone marrow once the leukemia cells overtake them.
In such a situation, very few healthy blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets get made and released into the blood. Here, the body’s tissues and organs will not get the necessary oxygen to work correctly. Neither will your body be able to form blood clots and combat infections as and when needed.
Hence, it affects a firefighter’s quality of life and increases the costs associated with medical treatments. Since most of them lose the capacity to earn a living, they undergo tremendous financial stress. One of the best ways to address and resolve this is by filing an AFFF foam lawsuit that will bring them fair compensation, using which they can lead their lives better and pay for their medical and other expenses.
Often, people think that leukemia is pediatric cancer. However, even adults suffer from it because of toxic AFFF and other chemical exposures. Adults who suffer from it are usually between the age bracket of 65 to 74 years. The prevalence of this cancer is said to be higher among the white and Caucasian populations.
The Symptoms of Leukemia
Individuals who develop chronic leukemia might not notice any visible symptoms during the initial stages. However, some of the common symptoms include:
- Night sweats and fever
- Getting tired easily
- Recurrent infections
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Tenderness or pain in joints
- Sudden weight loss
- Swollen stomach, groin, underarm, lymph nodes of the neck, and a big liver or spleen
- A full feeling or pain beneath the ribs (left side)
- Bleeding easily, such as bleeding gums, nosebleeds, dark skin patches, and rashes that resemble small red spots in the skin
People who have been exposed to AFFF for a prolonged period should keep a tab on these symptoms and get a medical analysis if they experience one or many causing another physical discomfort.
Navigating the Legal Path
The AFFF lawsuit update for January 2024 highlights that there have been 88 cases added recently to the class action MDL. The number of pending cases totaled 6,715. Therefore, people who have been exposed to PFAS in their jobs, such as firefighters, military personnel, and airport workers, can develop leukemia during the later stages of their lives.
That aside, even people who have worked in chemical plants, bulk fuel storage units, oil refineries, and flammable liquid storage units also have a chance of suffering from this type of cancer. These people can get in touch with a lawyer to file their lawsuit and increase their chances of getting the compensation they deserve.
TorHoerman Law states that a lawyer will make use of all the valuable pieces of evidence provided by the victim and build a strong case. It will help in attaining compensation that will effectively cover all the economic and non-economic damages. And it will help victims reduce their financial burden, pain, and suffering that they have undergone because of leukemia.
Finally, once exposed to AFFF, military personnel and firefighters become vulnerable to fatal ailments and cancer, like leukemia. Hence, they must search for alternative foam options that don’t cause harm to this extent. Additionally, it is also necessary to file a legal complaint to seek the compensation they deserve and raise concern about AFFF. It will propel the manufacturers to phase out this product and focus on fluorine-free foams that can accomplish the task without putting the lives of firefighters at greater risk.